University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
CLEANING TOOLS AND
OTHER OCTOBER GARDENING TIPS
Charlie Nardozzi, Senior
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension
University of Vermont
Cleaning garden tools for winter storage, emptying
pots, and mulching bulbs are some of the gardening tips for this month.
A Christmas cactus needs either long nights or cool
temperatures (or both) to initiate flower buds. You can put it in a
room that stays completely dark from sunset to sunrise until new flower
reach 1/8 inch long (at least three weeks). Or move your plant to a
location that stays between 55 and 60 degrees. Water just enough to
plant from wilting (the stems will feel limp), and hold off on
the buds form. Then move the plant into your living space and water
the soil is dry to the touch.
Once flower stalks of
perennials have died and turned brown, you can cut them down to three
inches from the ground, or leave the seed heads for the birds.
(coneflower), black-eyed Susan, ornamental grasses, and sedums offer
treats so leave these alone. But daylilies, phlox, and others that have
dried seedpods can be cut back.
Once you plant your bulbs,
don't be too quick to cover them with mulch. Wait until the ground
you don't inadvertently provide a home for rodents that are looking for
to hide for the winter. Once the ground freezes, the rodents will have
elsewhere and it's safe to spread mulch. The same holds true for
Ceramic and clay pots of dead annual flowers can
freeze and crack if they are left outside in winter. Better to empty
into the compost pile, then rinse the pots of debris and store them in
frost-free location. Don’t dispose of diseased or weedy plants in your
Begin preparing tools for
storage. Clean the soil off shovels, spades, and trowels using a rag or
brush, then wipe blades with an oiled cloth. Make sure pruners are free
dirt and plant debris, and wipe down the blades with the oiled cloth.
now so they’ll be ready for spring.
Drain gas from engines for winter, or use a few drops of winterizing
If you need to raise or lower the pH of your soil,
add the required amendments, such as sulfur or lime, this fall because
take some time to work. Take soil samples from different parts of your
garden and test them separately so you can apply what's needed for each
particular use. Soil test kits are available from Extension service
Weeds are shedding their seeds far and wide so if
you've gotten behind in your weeding, cut those with flowers and seed
first. Cut them gently to avoid scattering the seed, and drop them into
plastic or paper bag and dispose of them. Don't add them to the compost
your pile gets hot enough to kill the seeds.
Other activities for this
month include visiting a local farm for produce and pumpkins, picking
apples and making a pie, mowing until the grass stops growing, keeping
raked from lawns and gardens or shredding with a mower for mulch,
on this year’s vegetable garden, putting deer repellents around shrubs,
decorating with fall mums.
Return to Perry's Perennial